Skip to comments.FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, By Our Love
Posted on 05/16/2009 7:40:33 AM PDT by Publius
Dagny spends her time at the cabin in the Berkshires depressurizing, but also building a footpath because she cant relax. On occasion she drives into Woodstock, an isolated and depressing hamlet. Finding that kerosene is not available because of a road washout, she asks why the road is never fixed. Its always been that way, is the response. She cant take her mind off what may be happening back in the world, and she yearns for Hank.
Then Francisco shows up unannounced, and Dagny could swear hes whistling the theme from Halleys Fifth Concerto. Francisco takes Dagny in his arms and kisses her, but Dagny backs off. Francisco tells her that he can now explain everything. He should have intercepted her when she quit and spared her the past month in seclusion.
Dagny wishes that The Destroyer had come for her, and she was surprised that he didnt; now she thinks he doesnt exist. Francisco reminds her of that night, twelve years ago, when he warned her in agony about what was going to happen that he couldnt talk about; that was the night he gave up dAnconia Copper. Now he is destroying it to keep it from the looters, but in such a way that they cannot detect it and seize it to stop him. He was the first of the industrialists to quit, but he stayed in place. The worst part was what he knew it did to Dagny.
He and Dagny charged too little for their accomplishments, and their error went all the way back to Sebasian dAnconia and Nat Taggart, who created the wealth of the world, but let their enemies write the moral code. He and Dagny lived by their own standards but paid ransom to the looters to survive. Dagny perceives, and just as the recruitment of Dagny Taggart by Francisco dAnconia approaches a successful consummation, the radio broadcast of a symphony is interrupted by a news bulletin about a train wreck in the tunnel in Colorado. All of Franciscos hard work retreats into insignificance as the horror hits Dagny with full force.
As we left the Comet in the last chapter, it had entered the tunnel pulled by a coal burning steam locomotive. Three miles into the eight mile bore, the crew felt the effect of the fumes, and the engineer, that alcoholic friend of Fred Kinnan, threw the throttle wide open to gain enough speed to surmount the heavy grade. As the passengers felt the effect of the fumes, one panicked and pulled the emergency stop cord, breaking the locomotives air hose and stopping the train almost midway through the tunnel. The fireman fled through the tube, reaching the western portal when he was flattened by the blast of a explosion behind him. Apparently, the Army munitions train had been cleared to proceed because the tunnels signaling system was defective, and it plowed into the Comet, setting off an explosion that demolished the tunnel and most of the mountain with it.
Dagny screams and flees, and Francisco begs her not to go back, but to no avail.
Jim Taggart stares at the letter of resignation he hopes to avoid signing. Clifton Locey is hiding behind his doctors statement that he has a heart condition, and most company officers are playing hooky. Jim decides to hide in his office; even Wesley Mouch knows better than to call him.
But finally galvanized into action, Jim accosts Eddie Willers and demands to know where Dagny is; Eddie wont answer. Jim tries to intimidate Eddie, accusing him of treason, but Eddie wont budge. Then Dagny walks in. Jim screams that the disaster is all her fault, but Dagny ignores him and gives orders to Eddie. She quickly discovers that key personnel on the railroad have quit and disappeared. While Jim slinks off to shred his letter of resignation, Dagny asks what has been done since the disaster. Nothing, says Eddie, because the first person to act would have set himself up for the Unification Board. The entire Taggart system is in chaos.
Dagny opens up a rail map and tells Eddie to route trains over the tracks of other railroads, even to buy abandoned railroads and put them back into service. To fill gaps in the map, she tells Eddie to hire local crews to build new rail lines; bribe the Unification Board goons if necessary. Then she tells him to get the pre-tunnel system map out of the archives to see how they can reclaim the old route through the Rockies.
Eddie updates Dagny: Hank has signed the Gift Certificate, Quentin Daniels hasnt been heard from, and trains have been abandoned on the system with the crews disappearing into the night.
Wesley Mouch calls Dagny, making the official excuse that her health was the reason for her absence. She sloughs Mouch off and demands to talk to Clem Weatherby. She tells the rail czar that Mouch is never to call her again; she will deal exclusively with him. Weatherby balks until he realizes that Dagny is handing him preferment, the right to use her as an item of pull. She tells him that she is going to start breaking laws immediately, and Weatherby tells her the laws are certainly flexible in such a situation. Finishing the call, she looks at Clifton Loceys collection of liberal magazines and sweeps them off the coffee table in one stroke.
After giving the orders that will put the railroad back in working order, Dagny calls Hank. He tells her to start handing out bribes so that he can pour the steel any kind of steel to make her railroad whole again. He agrees to come over that night.
Railroads, Eminent Domain and Reciprocal Use
During the 19th Century, many states granted railroads the right of eminent domain. Railroads used that provision to claim the land for rail lines just as states used eminent domain to build highways. The provision was last used wholesale during the Twenties when America saw its last great period of railroad building.
Railroads often purchase trackage rights from other railroads to gain access to certain areas. In the event of an emergency, railroads are also quick to grant competitors the rights to their track because one day the shoe may be on the other foot. These emergency rights will be paid for, as will diesel fuel consumed at the host railroads depots.
The railroad world has changed since the book was published. Back then it was rare to see the locomotive of one railroad running on a different railroad unless there was an agreement or an emergency. In the 21st Century, however, high priority freight trains changing domain at Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans change crews but not locomotives. For high priority freights time lost at a rail yard is money; that is why it is now common to see locomotives in Union Pacific livery popping up in New York and vice versa.
Ping! The thread is up.
FReeper Book Club: Introduction to Atlas Shrugged
Part I, Chapter I: The Theme
Part I, Chapter II: The Chain
Part I, Chapter III: The Top and the Bottom
Part I, Chapter IV: The Immovable Movers
Part I, Chapter V: The Climax of the dAnconias
Part I, Chapter VI: The Non-Commercial
Part I, Chapter VII: The Exploiters and the Exploited
Part I, Chapter VIII: The John Galt Line
Part I, Chapter IX: The Sacred and the Profane
Part I, Chapter X: Wyatts Torch
Part II, Chapter I: The Man Who Belonged on Earth
Part II, Chapter II: The Aristocracy of Pull
Part II, Chapter III: White Blackmail
Part II, Chapter IV: The Sanction of the Victim
Part II, Chapter V: Account Overdrawn
Part II, Chapter VI: Miracle Metal
Part II, Chapter VII: The Moratorium on Brains
“Where are Third World standards encroaching on our current infrastructure? “
There are stretches of plain, old highway in some states where you might think you were driving in Honduras.
Good point - actually, anything touched by the various DOTs. The PA Turnpike was the 1st interstate built in the US - and, largely due to corruption, it is still not finished.
This is one of the things that makes 2009 America different from, say, 1936 Germany, or 1917 Russia.
Our civilization and economy depends, every second of every day, on a vast network of very sophisticated machines and collaborative arrangements between human beings. The real-time responsiveness of this network is extremely fast, thousands of times faster than that of the networks that made life bearable in Germany and Russia.
Barack Obortion’s efforts, and those of his minions, to tear down, corrupt, usurp, pervert, and attenuate these systems will have very widespread effects that will be felt quickly.
The Nazis and the Bolsheviks benefited from the much slower response of the systems in which they operated. They were able to seize control before the consequences could be seen or acted on by ordinary people.
There are millions of highly educated technocrats in America on whom the systemm depends in real-time, or near real-time. These are people who are trained to deal with reality in an honest and open-eyed way. People of this type will be among the first to be discouraged as Obortion tightens things up. As they stop doing their jobs, stop giving it their all, the consequences will be cumulative.
Third World standards, once introduced and not extirpated, spread like a communicable disease.
Good observation. In about five weeks, we will see how a single strand of copper wire, once sundered, creates chaos.
A crane inspector in NYC was charged with accepting bribes, as I recall.
But once it becomes a way of life, you get Third World disasters like that happening in the First World.
Look what is looming with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Everyone with some basic education in mathematics can see what is a few years out. But, the politicians say there is no real problem and government would be the solution if there were a problem. Reminds me of when Barney Frank stated that there is no problem with Fannie and Freddie about a year ago. Look at what a mess the government education system is in. And to think the government wants to run health care too.
There is no problem -- if you're willing to live with marginal tax rates of 85%. But then there goes your economy. The smart people flee to another country -- until America seals the borders and levies an exit tax like the old Soviet Union.
>>There are stretches of plain, old highway in some states where you might think you were driving in Honduras.
I still recall the first time I drove on US 101 in Silicon Valley, from Pacheco Pass up to Mtn View, right through San Jose, Santa Clara, past some of the biggest names in high tech. I thought I had a flat tire. thump-thump-thump as I went over each concrete seam on the roadway, my car taking a beating. That was in 1999 and by the time I left in 2006 it was still the same.
The airport there didn’t have jetways for one of their terminals, so when I flew out we had to go on the tarmac and up the gangway. I thought I was flying out of San Jose CA, not San Jose Costa Rica, WTH Mickey-Mouse operation is this?
This in the high tech capital of the world.
>> Third World standards, once introduced and not extirpated, spread like a communicable disease.
I find Third World standards in some of the highest-tech things, which is a recipe for disaster.
A couple of examples -
a) Air travel. I can’t tell you how many flights I’ve had delayed or cancelled because of a mechanical problem on the plane. Of course, most of the time those are on Airbus’, but I digress. First, I’m glad somebody found the problem before we got in the air. But, why are we having mechanical problems on the first flight of the day when it should have been checked out the night before? Why are we piling everyone onto the plane, then bringing somebody in to fix the problem, instead of getting it right before we board? The bottom line seems to be that there are rules being followed which have nothing to do with what is in the best interests of the customer.
2) Consulting. I am an IT consultant-type and have been for some time. Early on, I was told that in our company we “give the customer the advice that is best for them whether or not in was in our best interests.” I followed that advice once and had a lot of problems with my immediate supervisor. :-) I see way too often the situation where consulting advice is provided which results in more business, whether or not that is good long-term for the customer.
This then wraps back on itself when the customer doesn’t have the funds to provide maintenance on basics because they’ve bought what was sold to them.
Where are Third World standards encroaching on our current infrastructure?
That is not new. How many members of congress have wives on the payroll of some industry that they regulate?
What's that line at the end of Jurassic Park, "Life finds a way".
Sounds like the plot line for the History Channel's show "Life After People".
Now, how much would you like to bet, that the mexican toll road company is slipping a little graft to a government official, to make sure that the public highway is not maintained?
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